RAPID CITY S.D. — Several agencies, including the Black Hills Life Flight, South Dakota Army National Guard, and Black Hills National Forest came together to host the 10th annual Helicopter Medevac Training at the Great Plains Dispatch Center.
The goal was to educate firefighters on the ground to execute medical assistance on other firefighters in the field. It started with tours of each of the agencies’ helicopters and patient packaging in the field, then shifted to the helicopter training.
“Obviously, in the heat of that moment, there’s going to be a lot of adrenaline, it kinda slows everybody down,” said Kevin Merrill, the Forest Aviation Officer for the Black Hills and Nebraska National Forest. “Knowing what to expect if something comes live, knowing just the noise factor, the rotor wash, what the environment’s going to be like when you’re actually taking a patient.”
Firefighters like Lydia Raderschadt, who’s also training to be a paramedic with the National Guard, hoping that this and her future training translate to possible lives saved in the field.
“Learning the medical stuff from the National Guard will transfer over to helping out with the crew and then anybody else on a fire,” Raderschadt said. “If I’m able to help out one of my guys more and possibly save their life, then that’s really the end goal here is just to have as many skills as possible and help out as much as I can.”
The South Dakota Army National Guard is specifically equipped for extractions like this, so that’s why it’s really important when they get ground crews together and they work with them – that’s where they can show them a lot of procedures and things that go into one of these extractions.
“We interact with them quite a bit and we like to train with them and make sure they know our capabilities and vice versa,” said Commander Brandon Frerichs, a Medevac Pilot with the South Dakota Army National Guard. “We teach them, you know, what we’re looking for as soon as we get on the ground with the SKEDs, you know, how to hold the SKED line, how to help us out as much as possible so we can be the most efficient.”
The training is preparing them for any situation.